Just like their male counterparts, women are paying a small fortune for their disposable cartridge razors. Cartridge razors are not only terrible on your pocket book, they are even worse on the environment.
What did the ladies do (or the manscaping men that like to shave their legs, for that matter) before the invention of the 3-blade and 5-blade razors systems? I can tell you, they were likely not using Nair.
Before we get started, a word to the wise, keep your leg shaving (whether safety razor or cartridge razor) sanitary and in private. It’s part of the unwritten code.
Why shave your legs with a “man’s” safety razor?
First off and to be clear, just because men use safety razors, it does not mean that they are strictly created for male use. To the contrary, many safety razors are created with women’s styles in mind.
In addition, women can avoid some of the razor bump issues that can be caused by multi-blade razor systems by simply using a single blade system.
Just like the men, women are getting sick of paying high prices for razor blades, especially when they are getting hit doubly hard with things like the “pink tax.”
1. Save Money
In both the short and long run, shaving with a safety razor has significant cost savings over its cartridge razor counterpart. In 2016, NYT columnist Malcolm Harris discusses not only the benefits of shaving with a safety razor, but he does a good cost comparison as well.
In short, his conclusion: shaving with a safety razor can save upwards of $20,000 over a lifetime of shaving. The numbers vary slightly between the sexes, but the moral of the story holds true: if you truly want to save money when it comes to your leg shaving and grooming habits, then buy a safety razor and start scraping.
2. A Better Shaving Experience
Some would claim the preparation (the soaps, creams and lubes) involved in a traditional wet shave are what make it so appealing and a higher quality experience.
However, that’s only part of the story. The very feature that sells the multi-blade razor systems is their downfall. That is, multiple blades are better than one. The problem with multiple blades are as follows:
- Multiple blades pull some hairs while cutting others. This is especially existent when the hair is longer and the hairs that are closest to the blades catch.
- Multiple blade systems pull with the first blade and cut with subsequent blades, which can leave many hairs cut below the surface, increasing the likelihood of ingrown hairs and razor bumps, especially in those with curly hair.
Single and double edge safety razors cut the hair more evenly, allowing for a shave that is more healthy on both the hair and the skin by limiting the irritations inherent in shaving.
3. More Environmentally Friendly
Large, plastic multi-blade razor cartridges are terrible for the environment.
The EPA estimates that some 2 billion razors are simply thrown-out each year. That makes the disposable cartridge razor the most wasteful cosmetics product we use.
Contrarily, all the metal in a safety razor can be easily recycled.
4. Greater Customization
By using a safety razor, a woman opens herself up to a myriad of possibilities when it comes to customizing the shaving experience. For instance, razors (single, double, slant, closed-comb, open-comb), blades, soaps, creams and lotions are all tailored to perfect and suit your shave, depending on both your preferences and your given skin type.
You can perfect your own shave combination by trial, error and iteration. Most women who use the double-edge safety razor do so with a razor and blades that suit their particular needs as well as a creamy custom soap that fits them in creaminess and fragrance.
Is shaving your legs with a safety razor actually safe?
When most women first think of shaving their legs with a sharp razor that is not tucked nicely into a handle with a lubricating strip, they get nervous. But, shaving with a safety razor is perfectly safe.
While the process may require a bit of initial practice to become truly efficient (I always tell both men and women to give yourself a couple of weeks before you simply “give up”), once you get the knack for it, it will become second nature.
The two biggest differences between a safety razor and a cartridge razor are that 1) safety razors do not have a pivoting head and 2) safety razors do not have a protective guard.
What does this mean for your shave?
First, no pivoting head means you simply need to be aware of the angle in which you are shaving. You can’t just slap the razor down at any angle and go. It requires practice to set the razor at about a 30 degree angle and keep it there, taking shorter, deliberate strokes than you would with a cartridge razor.
Secondly, a lack of a protective guard means leg shavers will not want to add as much pressure as they want as can be done with a disposable razor. In most cases, safety razors have some heft to them and–in most cases–that heft is just enough to allow the razor’s weight to do the lifting itself.
In short, using a safety razor may require a bit more practice, but most will find they have the hang of it after the first shave.
Tips for Shaving Your Legs with a Safety Razor
- As stated above, be sure to do your best to keep the angle of the blade about 30 degrees relative to the surface of your skin. The lack of the pivoting head requires the user to keep the right cutting angle manually.
- To prevent the wrong angle and too much cream and hair build-up while you shave, be sure to take much shorter, deliberate strokes. Doing so will help to prevent razor bumps and skin irritation.
- Avoid putting more pressure than the natural gravity-fed pressure the razor naturally provides. This will prevent cuts and provide the best possible shaving experience.
- Do not shave areas that are not lubricated with shaving cream or shaving soap. Unlike cartridge shaving where there is a lubrication strip, wet shaving requires outside lubrication in order to prevent irritation. Even with a second pass on the skin, cream or soap should be applied.
- How frequently do you need to change the blades? Blades can be changed as frequently as desired, but it really depends on how frequently you are shaving and the blade itself. Blades can run from $0.10 to $0.30 each and you can usually get by with swapping them out every week or two for even the more regular shaver.
- Does it take more time to shave with a safety razor? When you begin there will be a difference in the amount of time it takes to shave your legs, but the time required is nominal and is not typically more than five minutes. As you become more proficient and skilled, the gap will reduce to nearly no time at all.
- Can you shave your armpits and groin with a safety razor? You most certainly can. It is advised to do these tender areas in more than one pass (once with the grain and the second pass across the grain). These areas will just require a bit more care.
- Do I need to use a shaving brush? A typical shaving brush is helpful in building a good lather and applying that lather evenly across your legs. However, a standard can of shaving cream will work as well. It is advised that you try multiple methods to see what works best for your particular situation. A shaving soap that smells like bay rum is likely more built for a man and not a woman, however.
There is a very common misconception among women that a safety razor is overly difficult to use and even dangerous. Getting over this fear is had by simply getting your first safety razor starter kit and getting moving on the process of shaving. There is certainly a learning curve, but most women are able to get down it quickly to maximize the benefit of shaving their legs with a safety razor.
What has been your experience in shaving your legs with a safety razor?